You keep seeing Academic English and EAP, right? I didn’t see the word ‘academic’ until I became a university student. Fast-forward a few years later when I became a lecturer, and then suddenly everything was academic.
I didn’t know much about Academic English when I was an undergraduate student. I never knew how to write academically when I was 18 years young and studying English literature!
But you’re at university, writing academic essays, completing academic projects and giving academic presentations.
So it’s probably best that you understand exactly what these two terms mean.
Academic English is the kind of language that you’re going to use at university. You’ll use it whenever you communicate at university.
What would be classed as ‘Academic English’? Basically anything using the four skills (listening, reading, speaking writing), including:
When you think about it, you’ve probably experienced communicating in academic language in your own country.
Using academic language in an English speaking country will be a very different experience. This is because you’re using English and not your first language.
But one thing I tell my students is that academic language is no-one’s first language. All of your lecturers and classmates have had to learn academic language at some point.
Good question. EAP means English for Academic Purposes, and it’s really similar to Academic English.
So, everything that we looked at earlier – writing essays, taking notes, giving presentations – can be included in EAP. It could also include more abstract features of university study, such as planning essays, thesis statements and conducting research.
The most significant difference between EAP and Academic English is that you’re more likely to enroll on an EAP (or PEAP) course than an Academic English course. This is probably because EAP sounds more professional than Academic English.
To summarise everything so far: Most of what you do at university can be classed as Academic English or EAP, and they are basically the same thing.
If you read an academic journal or text book, or watch an academic presentation, you’ll see what the difference is.
The main differences are:
This collection of differences is one reason why you might have to do a PEAP (Pre-sessional English for Academic Purposes) course before you start your university degree.
Academic English and EAP are really just different ways to talk about the kind of work that you will be doing at university. As we’ve seen, there are a few significant differences between Academic English and General English, which will mean that you will have to change the way that you communicate.
One of these changes might be the way that you express your opinion. Do you use ‘I think’ and ‘in my opinion’ a lot now? If you do, your writing might be too informal (oh no!).
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Sam is the founder and creator of English For Study. He's also lecturer in EAP/Academic English. Apart from making Academic English easy, he likes learning languages, lifting weights and eating good food.